‘Detox’ is a relatively new word in our lexicon. It is on the news, in the newspapers, on the radio and television and in the bookstores.
Recent newspaper headlines, for example from the Sydney Morning Herald and the Brisbane Times, include Detox Tips and Put Down Detox Kit, let the Body do its Thing (January 2009).
A quick glance in a local bookshop displayed a number of books telling ‘how to’ detox. Titles included: The Ultimate Detox and The Liver Cleansing Diet both by Dr Sandra Cabot, Detox Now by Leslie Kenton, Detox For Dummies by Dr Caroline Schreeve, Detox Cookbook by Jan Purser, and Detox - 4 Detox Plans and The Detox Cookbook both published by the Australian Woman’s Weekly.
Detoxification. What is it?
Detoxification is one of the body’s most basic automatic functions of eliminating and neutralising toxins through the colon, liver, kidneys, lungs, lymph and skin. The human body can become toxic, or polluted, from the foods and fluids that we consume and from our polluted environment, as well as from the many chemicals that are used on the skin as cosmetics etc. Stress in general can impact upon the body, with toxic end-products.
The body is constantly undergoing detoxification all the time. This is normal physiology. When the toxic load exceeds the natural detoxification process, we become ‘toxic’ with symptoms such as tiredness and fatigue, headaches, altered emotions, lowered immune system, skin conditions and many other problems. When this happens, the elimination organs (colon, liver, kidneys, lungs, skin) need help.
That help is called detoxing or detoxification.
In the alternative health community, detoxing/detox has a specific meaning, and essentially aims at keeping the body as free from toxins as is possible.
What are toxins?
A toxin is anything that is ‘poisonous’ to the body, that interferes with the normal functions of the body. Toxins can impact the body at the system level (the elimination system), the organ level (mainly the liver and kidneys) or at the cellular level.
Environmental toxins are very common and the lists are endless. There are those inhaled such as smoke and air pollution outside the home (for example, car exhaust fumes, aircraft pollution and that from industry). There is the wide variety of chemicals inside the home, especially those that outgas from furniture, carpets, paints, plastics, cleansing agents etc. Formaldehyde is an example of this type of pollution (see my May 2007 newsletter Formaldehyde and Chemical Sensitivity).
There are the ingested chemicals from our foods. These can be those deliberately added such as preservatives, flavourings and colourings, taste improvers like monosodium glutamate (MSG), and the many other chemicals that are added to food to modify it in some way. For a complete list, refer to The Chemical Maze by Bill Statham (published by Possibility.Com). Pesticide, herbicide and fungicide residues in, and on, food are yet another sauce of ingested toxins. Chemicals in drinking water also add to our toxic load.
Prescribed drugs, non-prescribed (‘over the counter’) drugs, as well as recreational drugs, are toxins, or more correctly poisons. Therapeutic drugs are selective poisons - this gives them their specific application. To give but one example: If 50 paracetamol tablets, taken as an overdose, causes death due to liver failure (caused by poisoning of the liver), what do two paracetamol tablets do to your liver?
A poor diet with too much animal protein, saturated fats, transfats and processed foods, as well as too much caffeine and alcohol, is a major source of toxins.
Toxins can be introduced by injection - vaccinations, flu shots, tattoos etc.
Irradiation such as medical x-rays and electromagnetic radiation (EMR) from mobile (cell) phones and towers, computer monitors, televisions and microwave ovens etc penetrate the body ‘invisibly’.
If a person is in tune with his or her body’s needs, he or she will be aware something is going wrong (as shown by the various symptoms of toxaemia), and should undertake some form of detox.
ELIMINATING TOXINS - DETOXIFICATION - DETOX
The road to natural health begins with cleansing and detoxification.
Those who truly seek health will have to sacrifice their old comfortable diet patterns and lifestyle to be rewarded by good health. Initially, with a change of diet and lifestyle, you may feel much worse (temporarily). A common question is: “Do I really have to go through feeling ‘worse’?”. This is detoxification. Poor health and illness are progressive, they do not occur overnight. Good health and wellbeing are also progressive: they may take weeks, months or years. (See my article Feeling Worse before Feeling Better).
This is the number one thing to do. Start today!
As far as is possible, or at least practicable, avoid the toxins referred to above. This will reduce the load that the body has to cope with, and it is likely that the body’s elimination organs will be successful in detoxifying naturally.
The Detox Diet
There are many foods and beverages that can easily be removed from the diet in order to detox the body.
These include: caffeine (especially coffee), alcohol, fast foods, meats and dairy and other animal products. Avoid all processed and refined foods, for example wheat products like bread. All foods that have had chemicals added to them should also be placed on the banned list.
Where available, organic foods such as fruits and vegetables are desirable, since they will be free from pesticide residues, and have a better nutritional content.
Raw foods should be a significant part of the diet. Also, follow appropriate food combining.
These brief guidelines are in accord with ‘The Ideal Diet’ as set out in my September 2005 newsletter Acid/Alkali Balance - The Ideal Diet.
Caloric/kilojoule restriction, where necessary (if overweight or obese) should be practiced until the ideal weight is reached. This is a body mass index (BMI) of 23 or less. BMI is weight in kilograms divided by the height in metres squared. Overweight (BMI 25-30) and obese (BMI greater than 30) people are inherently toxaemic.
Detox diets should be accompanied by drinking plenty of water (up to two litres a day) and moderate exercise.
Therapeutic Fasting - Juice Fasting
The benefit of the fast has been set out in detail in my April 2009 newsletter Raw Juice Therapy - Juice Fasting.
One day’s fast each week is strongly recommended. When the body lives upon itself, as in fasting, in its wisdom it burns up the ‘rubbish’ first. This is detoxification. Longer fasts will be necessary from time to time, as set out in the newsletter mentioned above.
Reduce Toxins around the Home
This has been referred to above. Air pollution in cities is well known. But the air in your home can be even more toxic, as it is often ‘locked-in’, so the out-gassed chemicals accumulate. The main contributing factors are synthetic building materials, paints, new furnishings that out-gas pollutants (i.e. furniture, carpets, curtains etc.), toiletries and household cleaning products. My newsletter on formaldehyde gives guidelines on reducing indoor pollution.
Bowel Transit Time
The transit time is the time taken from eating food to elimination of the food residues that remain after digestion. It should be no greater than about 24 hours. It is not uncommon for the transit time of people in the Western world to be excess of 72 hours. The longer the waste remains in the colon, the more toxic the body becomes. Constipation should be avoided. Generally, the diet set out above (rich in fruit and vegetables and hence fibre) results in a short transit time, with regular bowel evacuation and no constipation. If needs be, a supplement of water soluble fibre such as powered psyllium should be taken.
Sweating out Toxins
Sweating is another effective way to eliminate body toxins.
The skin is the largest organ of the body and has a variety of functions, one of which is the elimination of waste materials, including toxins, from the body.
Exercise that results in sweating is one effective way of achieving this type of elimination.
Dry sauna and steam rooms, widely used in the colder countries of northern Europe, are traditional ways of inducing sweating. Professor William Rae (Dallas, Texas), who runs an Environmental Control Unit for the management of Environmental Illness (Clinical Ecology), strongly recommends saunas for this purpose. For the patients in his unit, a daily sauna is an essential part of their treatment.
More recently, especially in Japan and increasingly in Australia, infra-red heat energy has become popular for detoxification. This is commonly found in the form of a sauna, and induces sweating. The infra-red heat energy is said to penetrate deeply into the skin and the underlying subcutaneous layers, causing the body to sweat intensely and thus is different to, and claimed to be better than, dry sauna or steam induced sweating. One and two person saunas are available for home use.
Liver Detoxification - Liver Cleansing
The presence of accumulated toxins can, and does, have an adverse effect on liver function. The adverse effects of alcohol and drugs are obvious. Alcohol excess can lead to a fatty liver and eventually cirrhosis (destroyed liver tissue replaced by scar tissue). Poor diet and obesity also contribute to liver problems.
Strategies for ‘liver cleansing’ include the intake of juices, raw fruits and vegetables, avoiding unhealthy fats (saturated animal fats and transfats), a low fat intake, weight reduction and exercise.
The intake of alcohol should be zero if there is a fatty liver, and otherwise limited to no more than 16 standard drinks per week for males, and 12 for females. A standard drink is one which contains 10 grams of alcohol. Thus a 750ml bottle of wine containing 10% alcohol is about 7 standard drinks.
A general tonic can help liver function. Olive Leaf Extract is an excellent tonic (see my April 2009 newsletter Olive Leaf Extract).
The colon, or large intestine, is ‘the sewer of the body’.
Colonics, colonic irrigation or bowel cleansing use water to gently clear-out accumulated waste from the colon. This is usually carried out by a therapist. Warm filtrated water gets infused into the colon through a soft, disposable rectal tube and the impacted waste material is softened, loosened and eliminated. Although strongly recommended by some natural therapists, this author believes that it should only be us when other methods fail to give good results.
Other Ways to Assist Detoxification
The following lists some of the other things that are recommended to bring about and aid detoxification.
Rebound exercise. This type of exercise utilises a mini trampoline to move the body up and down and as a result moves the lymph fluid 16 to 20 times more than when not rebounding. Lymph (interstitial fluid) is the fluid that surrounds all the cells. The flow of lymph through the tissues takes the toxins from the tissues back to the blood stream.
Chelation therapy. This is carried out by a doctor and is a standard medical treatment used to remove certain toxins such as heavy metals, for example, lead or mercury, from the body.
Supplements. Various herbs are used to promote detoxification. These include burdock root, chlorella, cilantro leaf and its seed, coriander. Milk thistle is especially beneficial to the liver. Other supplements that may help in detox include liquid zeolite, globe artichoke and dandelion root.
Green Barley Powder. This is made from fresh barley greens. It is highly alkaline, and is an excellent supplement to aid detoxification (see my November 2006 newsletter Green Barley Powder).
Foot Patches. These contain a mixture of herbs which, when placed in contact with the sole of the foot, draw out the toxins into the herbs. Some people find them particularly beneficial.
Skin Brushing. This removes the dead layers of the skin and stimulates circulation to the skin, which assists detoxification.
Deep Breathing. Regular deep breathing exercises will help eliminate the carbon dioxide waste from the body.
Stress Management. Strategies to cope with stress will reduce the formation of free radicals, which are damaging to the body and result in the production of toxins.
Removal of amalgam fillings. Some believe that these fillings (50% mercury) lead to mercury toxicity, and should be removed. Not all dentists would agree that removal and replacement of amalgam fillings is necessary and health beneficial.
The less toxic we are, the healthier we are.
The body actively desires complete healing to take place within it at all times. Healing comes from within. The body has the innate capacity, knowledge and wisdom to heal itself at any time - if it is allowed to do so.
Detoxification is a key to this happening.
Follow the above guidelines for effective detoxification, especially avoiding toxins as much as possible. Give the body the highest quality food (much of it raw) when it needs it, with regular juice fasting. Remember that during the transition from a poor diet to a dominantly raw-food diet combined with juice fasting, the symptoms experienced are due to the body’s effort to detoxify. Add adequate rest and regular exercise, fresh air and sunshine and all we can then do is to wait patiently for the healing process to take place. Ultimately, we must let our body perform its health-restoring work at its own pace. The real Doctor is within - the body alone is capable of performing all the needed healing functions.
The road to natural health begins with cleansing and detoxification.
*Copyright 2009: The Huntly Centre.
Disclaimer: All material in the Huntlycentre.com.au website is provided for informational or educational purposes only. Consult a health professional regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations expressed herein, with respect to your symptoms or medical condition.
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